16.4M transactions in a block! Bitcoin SV breaks another record

We like big blocks. Bitcoin’s transaction capacity just keep getting bigger, and this week’s record is 16,415,525 transactions in a single block—the highest number on any blockchain, ever. Bitcoin’s Scaling Test Network (STN) broke it with block #14287 on February 3rd, 2021, which also happened to be almost 3.15 GB in size.

The block also “earned” its miner 32.38 BSV in fees. Although it happened on the test network (meaning those aren’t bitcoins that can actually be used as money) it’s an indication of how much a transaction processor could earn by confirming blocks that size on a regular basis.

Just a year ago, a 1GB block on a previous incarnation of the STN was headline news. That block contained 5,449,866 transactions. All this demonstrates the BSV blockchain is getting ready for big data, enterprise-tier applications. These applications would operate on a global scale and could include financial applications, IoT data, government and property records, exchanges, health data, contracts, and a wide range of tokenized “assets” representing anything from loyalty points to other currencies.

Bear in mind, this is all utilizing the existing Bitcoin protocol, Bitcoin SV Node. Within a few years developers at nChain are looking to launch “Teranode“, an even higher capacity protocol aimed at enterprise, which will someday subsume SV Node’s operations (while maintaining Bitcoin’s original “set in stone” rules and economic incentives).

No blockchain can hope to gain widespread adoption and usage without this kind of capacity. And it needs to happen on-chain, or there’s no point having a blockchain at all. That’s why the original Bitcoin, as BSV, focuses on on-chain speed and capacity to build a more useful (and secure) global network. Whatever the Internet can do now, BSV aims to do on its blockchain—in a way that isn’t as broken and insecure as today’s Internet is.

Putting things into perspective

Although 16,415,525 transactions in a single block is a record for now, the STN homepage says: “It is not too difficult to produce a single block with a large number of transactions, it is much more difficult to sustain this rate over a period of time.” Just last week, the STN for a short period reached over 9,000 transactions per second, which was also a large jump.

Bitcoin’s Scaling Test Network has similar technical capabilities to the BSV mainnet, so processing transactions at that kind of volume is technically possible thanks to improvements in the software. However there are other issues to consider before unleashing this sort of power on the mainnet.

These include the size and makeup of the mainnet. It’s much larger than the STN for starters in terms of numbers of nodes, and also in its variety of physical locations, systems, and independent operators. The STN, which is the fourth incarnation of the BSV testnet, is designed to model the “real world” mainnet, in order to see what’s possible under ideal conditions.

The STN developers also note that Bitcoin, like the real-world economy, should expect to have “peak” and “regular” intervals of activity on a daily basis. Its goal is to show what can be achieved and sustained for longer periods of time, rather than break records with single blocks. A block with far fewer transactions could also be larger in (data) size too.

Even so, 16.4 million transactions in a block is a huge amount. It’s beyond the capabilities of other blockchain networks, whether they’re data processing-oriented or single purpose. It’s yet another demonstration of what Bitcoin really is, what it aims to do, and what it hopes to be used for in the future.

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